March 5, 2014
A farmer who bared his bottom to celebrate much-needed rain says being blocked on Facebook will not stop his nude salutes to the sky.
And he and his partner hope it will highlight how much rain means to drought-stricken farmers, particularly in Queensland.
James Rogers and Jody Fraser were thrilled at receiving the first solid downpour in eight months at their property near Cobar in central New South Wales last Friday.
When Mr Rogers decided to go for a celebratory scamper in nothing but his cowboy hat, Ms Fraser snapped a picture of the moment on her phone.
“It was just a random thing James decided it would be funny to do,” she said.
Ms Fraser uploaded the photo to Facebook, and posted it on the Station Photos community page, which features pictures of life on the land from all over Australia.
The shot of the happy nude farmer immediately went viral, attracting thousands of shares and likes for its joyful expression and cheeky sense of humour.
But Mr Rogers soon found himself the butt of Facebook fury, with users reporting the image for graphic content or nudity.
The picture was taken down, and Station Photos was issued a warning and asubsequent 24-hour Facebook ban.
Queensland-based page Higgins Storm Chasing also re-posted the picture and received a warning and a ban.
“I went and made a page for it, and mine got blocked,” Mr Rogers said.
The 22-year-old said he did not understand how such a good-natured photo could be so controversial.
“I couldn’t believe it… it was just a harmless joke and it kept going,” he said.
“There’s much worse things on Facebook than that.”
Ms Fraser said perhaps those who hit the ‘report’ button did not understand just how difficult life without water was.
“We didn’t expect it to go as far as it did, but now that it has, if it can help out other people that are worse off than us, it’s a good thing,” Ms Fraser said.
“We haven’t had as near as tough as some of the people up in Queensland, but we’ve had dams dry up and you go around every day pulling sheep out of the bog.”
Facebook guidelines state that it imposes limitations on the display of nudity, but it aspired to “respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding”.
As for Mr Rogers, his bottom’s rough ride through Facebook will not stop him from celebrating future rainfall any way he likes.
“I’ve done it all my life, pretty much, my mother can vouch for that… every time it rained, me and my brother would be flat out running around in the rain and playing,” he said.
“But not always nude.”